2015 Nissan Micra SV, dashboard. Click image to enlarge
Review by Lesley Wimbush, photos by Lesley Wimbush and Chris Coughlin
Whlle it may not go down in the annals of automotive history as one of its celebrated legends, the daily driver holds a place near and dear in many of our hearts.
Rarely will you see one celebrated in the pages of the buff books, or glorified by the photographer’s lens, but our humble beaters are truly the unsung heroes of the roadways.
I still remember the first car that I owned entirely by myself, a plain little hatchback that one friend called “even uglier than a Yugo”. It may not have been a great car, but it was perfect for cutting my automotive ownership teeth on, and I remember it fondly to this day. That car, a 1986 Nissan Micra, seamlessly integrated itself into my newly-single life – carrying Tardis-like, all the materials needed for a bathroom reno, smelly dogs and saddles with my horse-crazy riding friends, and my beloved Bianchi mountain bike, which was swallowed easily by its boxy rear hatch. But most importantly, within its homely cabin, I spent many hours while my toddler nephew “drove” – feet far from the pedals, hands gripping the wheel, happily chatting while making “vroom-vroom” noises.
After a 22-year hiatus, Nissan’s little subcompact hatch returns to Canada, with the lowest sticker price in our market.
With a base price of $9,998, the Micra may be the most inexpensive car that Canadians can buy – but don’t call it cheap. Although it costs about the same as a decent used car, the Micra offers big value for its low price.
I looked forward to the Micra’s arrival with anticipation, not only because of its nostalgic ties, but because there are few things I like more than cheap n’ cheerfuls with a heavy emphasis on the cheerful. Over the years, there’s always been one dedicated beater hatchback in my fleet and I’ve come to rely upon their frugal reliability. The compact Nissan already fulfilled most of the criteria my flimsy budget demanded, all that remained was to see if it lived up to my personal demands – in other words, was it fun?
So when I heard that the Micra was due to arrive on the press fleet, I begged, bugged and badgered Editor Jonathan to let me review it.
The bottom-line buy-in refers, of course, to a base S model stripper with manual transmission, roll-down windows, and no air. Much like every daily beater I’ve ever driven.
Lesley’s sister Jackie and her son Lucas with the original Nissan Micra. Click image to enlarge
My test model, a mid-range SV likely to be the top-selling trim level, features power locks and windows, a four-speed automatic transmission, air conditioning, Bluetooth and a cute little 4.3-inch display screen with backup camera for $14,698. There’s an available “sporty” SR model, boasting 16-inch machined alloy rims, side skirts and a jaunty rear spoiler – but it only adds some show and not an ounce of go. Optioned with the automatic transmission, it’s $16,748. Strangely, not even the range-topping model is available with navigation, nor leather upholstery. Heck, even the dreary Mirage offers navigation.